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tv   Military Sexual Assault  CSPAN  March 2, 2014 11:28am-12:56pm EST

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people inside the plant that knew and understood that the uaw was only there for one reason, survival. there was nothing that the uaw could offer them to enhance their families lives. i think the community understood full well the negative impact the uaw was going to have in our community and our ability to attract jobs. i do not know. the president's, and on friday, that were purposely leaked out, where he said i cannot believe people in chattanooga care more about chairman stockholders than they do about the wages of the people on the planet. it? impact did was putwhat we did was
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people that were paying attention. how many of you read the paper these days? [laughter] does i think they were ribbon around the papers trying to decide -- riveted around the papers trying to decide? i just don't know. i think the bigger impact really was the grassroots efforts that took lays within the plant, where people had to, within shifts, and in brakes had to inform people the fact that -- most of the employees got it -- that all they wanted for at the was dollarhe u v w signs. reported right after that by the ap that they have had to sell $300 million in
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assets over the past several years just to survive. they are selling talks, they're selling bongo they're selling investments to survive cutting --k to bed and sleep survived. cutting back tremendously. should officials be able to say and think what they think to be true? absolutely. we have nine people who want question, but we are out of time. thank you so much for coming. we hope you come back. >> thank you. i appreciate it. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
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>> this practice with senator corker as the main speaker, he is a ranking member of the foreign relations committee. he has called on president obama to intervene in the situation in the ukraine. this weekend, russia's parliament approved a request from vladimir putin to allow military forces to enter ukraine and the crimean peninsula. president putin says russia wants to protect ethnic russians and its military bases there. president obama spoke with president putin tomorrow -- yesterday morning for about an hour and a half to asking president clinton to engage directly with the ukrainian government. he also says the u.s. is suspending its preparations for the g-8 summit in june to take place in sochi, russia. the united kingdom is also suspending its involvement. senators --r u.s.
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some tweets from u.s. senators on the ukraine. feed policy and's twitter -- you can follow c-span's , and here is secretary of state john kerry on meet the press. >> let me make it clear. president putin is not operating from a place of strength here. ? was his supporting
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president. he was thrown out despite support. and in ausing force completely inappropriate manner that will invite banker the world, and it already is. he is not going to gain by this. he may be able to have his troops for some time in crimea, but the fact is he is going to lose on the international stage, russia's going to lose, the russian people are going to lose. is going to lose all of the glow that came out of the olympics coming his $60 billion extravaganza. he is not going to have in sochi g-8 company may not even remaining in the g-8 if this continues. asset find himself of freezes on russian businesses, american businesses may pull back, there may be a old -- further tumble of the ruble. united,tates is
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russia's isolated, this is not a position of drink. >> we rebroadcast all of the sunday talk shows in about half an hour. a look at our facebook page with what you think will happen next in the situation in ukraine. you could also weigh in and see more comments on our facebook page. told, both as students and designation as part of the real imagination is that there are all kinds of citizens and marches that occur, but it really is done by these famous ok people -- iconic people. rosa parks was so tight that
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your views to get up from the above in montgomery, alabama, and sparked the bus boycott. a young preacher, that the president referred to, as from georgia, dr. martin luther king jr., we sought lead masses of african americans from racial oppression. and notion that rosa sat, martin to do this stuff, and just a good run, and barack good lie, they sound good, but -- they signal a complicated history. so many african-americans, women and men who proactively dismantled racial segregation of including rosa parks. she was an activist. he did not just refuse just give up her seat by accident of it was a concerted, strategic effort to try to transform a democratic institution. >> author of our days and bright
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bright -- dark days and nights. today he will take your questions in depth, live for three hours starting at noon eastern on c-span two possible tv. next, a senate subcommittee hearing on sexual assault in the military, with former military service members, and officials from dod and the veterans affairs department. the sub committee is chaired by new york senator kiersten jill gillibrand. she wants to take sexual harassment cases out of the chain of command. >> we have come today to receive that the mostly about the ,esidue between sexual assault
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posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide. violence occurring at an unacceptable rate in our military. too often our servicemen and women find themselves in the fight of their lives, not in a theater of war, but in their own ranks, among their own brothers and sisters. in allongress is not agreement about the extent of reforms was required to resolve this crisis, but we have positive steps forwards including 36 separate provisions to address actual salt in the military -- sexual assault in the military. unanimously, and additional important legislation is still under consideration, including my bill, the military justice improvement act. no matter where any one person falls in this debate we can all agree that we must fully understand the long-term psychological toll on the
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survivors of sexual trauma in the military, and the best practices for effective treatment. sexual assaults are obviously very traumatic events for victims. traumatic events that have long-lasting, frequently lifelong consequences, including post traumatic stress disorder and suicide. keith phillips, a constituent of mine, shared his experience with me recently. heath grew up in a family that was devoted to the military. he joined the navy shortly after he turned 17, and was excited to be part of the navy family. when he reported to his duty station after boot camp there was no one there to register him, so they told him he'd have to come back. he met a couple of other sailors from the ship and went in to new york city with them. they went out drinking, and he blacked out, and when he came to, the other sailors were sexually assaulting him. they threatened him, and told him, no one would believe him. he went back to the ship, where he reported the assault. only to be told that it was his
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own fault because he had been drinking, and that he was lucky to not be in trouble for underage drinking. the sexual assaults continued aboard the ship, and when his commanders allowed these assaults by his shipmates to continue without any repercussions, heath went awol. ultimately, he accepted a dishonorable discharge to end his torture. not only was his suffering from ptsd which led him to flee the ship, but now he's not eligible for va benefits. it's stories like these that motivated me to have this hearing. i want to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else, and that people like heath aren't forced to choose between their mental health and the benefits they've earned from the united states government. this is not just an issue of anecdotal evidence. one study of iraq and afghanistan veterans found that, quote, female veterans with a history of military sexual
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assault or harassment were five to eight times more likely to have current ptsd. three times more likely to be diagnosed with depressive disorders. and two times more likely to be diagnosed with alcohol use disorders compared to female veterans without military sexual trauma. another study of iraq and afghanistan veterans seen at the va found that both for women and men, who reported a history of military sexual trauma, were significantly more likely than those who did not to receive a mental health diagnosis, including post traumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders, depression and substance usage disorders. i also want to address today how the department of defense and the va handling sexual assault reports impact survivors' mental health. the va's own website says that how the military handles military sexual assault has actually made ptsd worse.
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quote, many victims are reluctant to report sexual trauma and many victims say that there were no available methods for reporting their experiences to those in authority. many indicate that if they did report the harassment, they were not believed, or encouraged to keep silent about the experience. they may have had their reports ignored. or even worse, have been themselves blamed for the experience. having this type of invalidating experience following a sex seoul trauma is likely to have significant, negative impact on the victim's post-trauma adjustment. end of quote. i'm alarmed by the following statistic, as should every person in this room. on average, 22 veterans commit suicide every single day. 22 brave men and women commit suicide every single day. it's critical that we look at
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the links between sexual assaults and harassment and related ptsd, and its role in intolerable number of suicides. today the subcommittee meets to discuss these links, their consequences and how they're addressed. on our first panel we have two survivors of sexual assault. lance corporal jeremiah arbogast, who is medically retired from the marine carp, and jessica kenyon, who served as a private first class in the u.s. army. we have invited them to tell us about their experience as survivors of sexual assault that occurred while they served in the military. did they suffer from ptsd? did they consider suicide? if so, what kind of help did they receive to address these conditions? we hope to learn what worked as well as what didn't work and what we in the u.s. senate can do to improve the care of survivors when sex seoul assaults unfortunately occur. on the second panel we have dod and ba officials who will testify about the programs,
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department of defense and va have in place to address the needs of sexual assault survivors, including medical therapies for ptsd and suicide prevention efforts of these departments. we understand that the dod and the va maintain an evidence-based joint clinical practice -- joint clinical practice guideline on the management of ptsd. we would like to learn more about how this works in practice, and how dod and va ensure continuity of care when victims transition from active duty to veteran status. from dod we have dr. karen guice -- excuse me dr. karen gooust the principal deputy secretary for health affair. ms. jacqueline garrick, suicide prevention and response office and dr. nathan galbreath, senior executive adviser department of defense sexual assault prevention response office. from the department of the va, we have dr. susan mccutcheon, national mental health director family services. women's mental health and military sex trauma.
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and dr. margaret bell director of education and training, national military sexual assault trauma support team. i'd like to thank all of you in advance for your testimony and for your dedication on behalf of our service members. these are not easy issues to deal with but there are real consequences of these horrific crimes that are far too common in our military. there's no better -- there's no greater responsibility for congress and the military leaders than to care and provide for our service members and their families. the nation entrusts their sons and daughters to our military, and we must ensure that their service is safe from sexual assault and if they are assaulted that they receive the best care and treatment possible while at the same time holding perpetrators accountable for their criminal actions. i look forward to the testimony of our witnesses on the first panel. i encourage you to express your views candidly, and to tell us what's working, and what's not working. help us to understand what we can do to address this unacceptable problem of sexual assaults in the military.
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i want to thank senator graham, it's been a privilege to work with him as ranking member of this subcommittee. i have great admiration for senator graham's passion. on behalf of our military service members and families, when he joins us he can deliver his opening remarks. mr. arbogast would you like to read your testimony? >> madam chairman, distinguished members of this committee, i am saddened to be here but thankful for the opportunity to share my testimony. i wouldn't be here without the love and support of my amazing wife and caregiver tiffany arbogast. before i begin, i want to acknowledge the mst survivors who struggle day-to-day with losing their will to live while fighting for much-needed benefits, stability and validations for the crimes committed against them, along with the mst victims who are no
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longer with us due to suicide. i am medically retired lance corporal who served in the united states marine corps. i am compelled by my oath to speak out about the injustices that have been done to survivors. the oath that i took as no expiration date. i urge each of you to stand with survive evers of military sexual assault and to take a pro-active steps to fix the broken system of justice and survivor response. i am a male survivor of military sexual trauma. i was drugged -- and sexually assaulted by my farmer staff sergeant from a previous command. a fellow marine. while on active duty. after this heinous crime i was humiliated at the thought of my helplessness, while a man and a fellow marine took advantage of me sexually.
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after two months of nightmares, anxiety, depression, and confusion, my world as i knew it was falling apart. i feared being blamed and retaliated against, and i was embarrassed. with the last shred of dignity i turned to a base social worker who felt it was her obligation to report the sexual assault to ncis. when ncis started the investigation, they informed me i needed to provide proof of the assault. i felt humiliated because other individuals were now aware of what happened. at a point during the investigation, i was forced to provide proof by confronting my rapist. to try to get a confession. i was asked to make repeated recorded phone calls, and then go to his home while wearing a body wire. i asked him to tell me what happened. i got a full confession, which i accomplished.
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my perpetrator was arrested, and charged with several counts, including sexual assault and sodomy. the trial lasted a week. even with overwhelming evidence, the court found him guilty of lesser charges, the court decided he would receive a bad conduct discharge, no jail time, and they took his 23 years of service as kudos. he was ordered to ncis headquarters, fingerprinting, where they determined he gnawed the skin from the fingertips on both hands so he could not be fingerprinted. he refused to register on the sex offenders data base by simply saying, no, i don't have to. nothing was done, and to this day, i don't know where my perpetrator is. not knowing his location leaves my looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life. i was not afforded the same rights as rape victims in the civilian world, where are my choices?
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while my perpetrator walked away with minimal consequences, i was formally retired from the u.s. marine corps due to military sexual trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. i joined the marines in order to serve my country as an honorable man. instead, i was thrown away like a piece of garbage. according to the american psychiatric association, 90% of all rapists and serial rapists will commit an average of 300 to 600 rapes in a lifetime. this is not just a military problem -- this is not just a problem within the military, it becomes a societal and national security risk to us all. while i try to survive and hope that my life would get better, even years later, the constant stigmatization, personal attacks, ostracism and ptsd was never ending. choosing death was my way of taking responsibility for my circumstances.
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i simply haven't found the reurces to cope. i sit here before you in this wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury that resulted in paraplegia from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a nine millimeter handgun. i felt my death would spare my wife, daughter and myself the dishonor the rape brought upon us. this should send a clear statement of just how bad things can get in the lives of sexual assault survivors when they feel no hope, and are not being offered the appropriate clinical support needed for them and their families. the armed forces were severely remiss and still are today in the treatment of mst survivors. the va health care system is overloaded, and fails to keep up with the sheer number of growing -- sheer growing numbers of mst victims. the va mental health system lags in offering male mst survivors
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male-specific support groups which is badly and urgently needed for millions of males, veterans, suffering from mst. 22 veterans are taking their lives every day. only 12 of which are combat related. the american psychiatric association estimates that men who do not -- who are denied proper counseling after rape are likely to attempt suicide at least twice in their lifetime. therefore, dod, and va providers, and all military leaders, need specific training in the nuances of troupea related sexual assault, human sexuality and the different effects of rape on both men and women. the belief system about rape must change within the armed forces. and it will only change when the perpetrators are consistently prosecuted, and no longer given leniency and their sentencing by their commanders. in a recent article in the military times, a sapro official
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was quoted as saying we need to tell perpetrators, don't rape. this approach will not stop rape in the military. you can't train rapists not to commit rape. but you can stop them from harming anyone else. haven't we heard enough stories of broken lives and lives lost that have been told in front of these committees? this is an epidemic, and 2012 approximately 14,000 men and 12,000 women were sexually assaulted in the armed forces, according to d od's own sexual assault prevention and response report. dod has been claiming to try to fix this problem for over 20 years and to no avail, sorry to say we cannot take the attitude of wait and see, not even for one more year, which was the recommendation from our commander in chief.
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half measures do not work and neither do false promises. we need congress to move past ego and political stalemates. these perpetrators must be stopped from continuing their planned acts of terrorism against their fellow service members. we need a justice system that ensures these criminals are held accountable for their crimes and prevented from victimizing any other service members. the first step to fixing this problem and ensuring the health and welfare of our service members must be creating a professional impartial justice system because sexual assault is not an occupation hazard. i, and countless others, have lost so much in this battle. these losses are -- these losses are nothing unless the dod and va leadership hear our pleas for more accountability, an end to victim blaming, and retaliation, and access to humane care for survivors.
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our service members deserve the same duty, honor and courage from you, in solving this epidemic. and its consequences that they have shown through their self-less sacrifices for this country. we expect nothing less from congress when it comes to accountability and providing adequate care to our nation's warriors. your help is needed so our military can continue to be the finest fighting force this world has known. before i close, i would like to leave you with some words from zbaundy. you must be the change that you wish to see in this world. thank you. distinguished members of the committee, i want to thank you for having me and affording me the opportunity to speak today. i feel it is my duty as someone who is able and willing to speak on behalf of myself and those who are unable. i want to thank my loving husband, brendan brinkman for
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his continued efforts in supporting me through this extremely difficult struggle, being there throughout unconditionally. i also want to thank the rest of my family who has been there for me, and those families who do all they can for other survivors with very little support for themselves. i joined the military as an apache crew chief in 2005, a year after the implementation of the new sexual assault regulations. during the initial training, none of us received any training in what to do regarding -- in a real sexual assault situation. the truth was, at that point, i had to google what to do when it happened to me. i immediately experienced the flaws and repercussions. from there it was instance after instance of a failed system in which i became ostracized, singled out, publicly shamed, disciplined for getting treatment, and treated as though i was the one who did something wrong. from my experience i can speak
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clearly to the loopholes in the current system that allows commanders, perpetrators, investigators, and anyone with outside influences and conflicts of interest to distort justice and degrade the military discipline and readiness. these loopholes perpetuate a current state of affairs, that when a case is handled or mishandled, i, like many others to this day, can be made an example of and held up as what will happen if you report anything. this shows other victims, as well as perpetrators, how their crimes will be handled. this prompted me to leave the military and inspired me to expose the injustices they allow. i did not want anyone else to be put through what i was put through, but i also saw the potential for much worse situations. and i could not stand for it, whether i was ready to leave the military or not. given the situation i was put
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in, i felt no other option than regretfully leaving the military. my -- my work to help other survivors and families, and fix this broken system, is my way to continue to serve our country. since my honorable medical discharge, i have worked with thousands of veterans, active duty, and their families. i currently suffer from severe depression, bouts of insomnia, debilitating memories, thoughts, triggers of all sort, anger, chattering in my head, constant anxiety to the point that i am forced to use all of my focus to appear normal. which hinders my abilities to read, write, have a conversation, remember much of anything in the short-term. this level of keeping my head above water is where i have found what passes for a level of peace. while i do hope to improve it, it is very hard road and some
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days i am not able to maintain my composure and my husband and loved ones bear the brunt of it. i have to live with that guilt every day. i am just praying my son doesn't ever know me like this, or worse, what i was like before i gained some balance. most of my scars are invisible. so my needs are treated as less than important. the current command environment makes it hard to keep outside influences away from all criminal cases in a command regardless of the commander's view or the unit's view of them as commanders. removing all judicial punishment decisions from the command will keep them clear of all repercussions, including to their command, their career, and their general morale of the unit. loafing judicial punishment with commanders is not just a problem in the mishandling of sexual assault cases with the victim
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blaming. i have experienced, as well as others, a command environment is simply not a top -- not a top-down environment. my new -- a new commander may take command in an established structure, and the disruption of the structure regardless of how honorable their intentions can lead challenges to that command. this removal of the judicial punishments from the command would remove conflicts both to and from the commanders. this also prevents a commander from lessening the charges to whatever keeps it in the command, or at its lowest levels, either out of concern that the accused talents would be lost, or the command would look bad. as of right now, there is no accountability for those who mishandle cases. but even if the commander wants
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to do the right thing, there is often pressure from the top to make it go away, or downplay the severity. discipline problems within a command will usually be reflected on the service record and cost them promotions. this environment is -- this is not environment for justice for victims, for perpetrators, or commanders. as it currently stands, the v.a. handles sexual assault in the military similar to civilian cases. but it is critical to note psychologically they are very different. i have found that it is much closer psychologically to the results of incest. and should be treated as such. as a civilian sexual assault does not address the inherent trust victims give their command, nor the betrayal of that trust when a sexual assault occurs. and the subsequent case is mishandled.
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this continues to be true even if the case is handled properly. survivors of sexual assault, like many others, suffer from ptsd, are rarely in a state emotionally, financially or otherwise to navigate the complex and detailed paperwork and procedures that the v.a. requires for rating. this paperwork barrier receives -- receiving assistance often exacerbates the survivor's issues and all too often driving them to the point of poverty, homelessness, alcohol and drug abuse, and much, much more. rather than proper counseling, it is often the case that medications are prescribed, many times pills are almost immediately prescribed by various v.a. caregivers with no experience of what they might actually do to the mental health of the individual, other than the list of warnings, which are often not taken seriously. these mountains of drugs are also being mixed and matched
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constantly, and most of which were never supposed to be mixed with anything other, let alone the numbers in which the v.a. doles them out. it is not uncommon to hear of veterans being prescribed dozens of medications at a time. in more than a few cases caregivers will refuse treatment if an individual refused to take the prescribed drugs, despite their helping or making things worse. the survivors have little to no recourse if things were to go wrong. for those of us who do not wish to be drowned in psycho active drugs, many of our cases are left to wither, and our wellness opportunities are hard to come by, or are too expensive or unavailable. there is no right way to have ptsd. and therefore no cookie cutter treatment. is not what most need. offering the support -- offering and supporting programs and caregivers outside of the v.a.
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would go a long way to lifting their burden. i also want to point out that servicewomen are more than twice as likely to have ptsd, but only half as often to get diagnosed with it. they are more likely to be diagnosed with a personality disorder, or an adjustment disorder. thank you. >> thank you for your testimony. your full statements will be submitted for the record. i'd now like to turn it over to the ranking member, senator graham. >> thank you, madam chairman. appreciate both of you testifying before the committee. i think there is almost unanimous support, i would hope, in the senate for finding a way to provide treatment to people who have been victims of sexual assault. i know it has got to be one of the most traumatic experiences one could go through. and i do appreciate you sharing with us what you see as flaws in the current system, the v.a., counseling, and i really look
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forward to listen -- hearing from the second panel. i think there's been some major monumental changes in the military about how we deal with this problem in terms of reporting, treatment, and just awareness. the one thing i would say, with all due respect to our witnesses, and to my fellow colleagues, from my point of view that this is a problem that will never be solved if you tell the commander this is no longer your problem. been in the military for 31 years. i do believe that the role of the commander when it comes to dispensing military justice is essential and there is accountability in the reforms we've made. that when sexual assault cases are brought to a commander, and they refuse to prosecute, after a lawyer says we should go forward, that decision goes all the way up to the secretary of the service. when the lawyer and the local commander say, no to moving forward, in an allegation of sexual assault, it goes up to the next level of the command, which i think is a very good
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signal to take this seriously. but i would just say to both witnesses from a military point of view, to tell the commander this is no longer your problem would be an absolute disaster for fixing the problem. and i think a road, what the military is all about, it is the commander's problem, it is their responsibility, and we expect them to do their job. thank you both and thank you madam chairman. i look forward to hearing from the next panel. >> thank you very much for your testimony. so i want to talk a little bit about the type of mental health services you did receive. mr. arbogast could you talk a little bit about what type of mental health treatment you received through the dod after your assault, and whether you thought it was adequate care. if there are any improvements specifically to that? and then after separating from the military, what was the mental health treatment like at the v.a.? were there any challenges, any inadequacies there, and what recommendations would you make
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to this committee for the dod or v.a. to approve -- improve the type of mental health services you receive after a sexual trauma. >> thank you. after my assault i was pretty much tossed to a back room, i would say, and you know, just left floating around at command after i was transferred. as for care. i didn't receive the adequate care from the dod at all. for the simple fact is, in my time of my rape, you know, this -- you felt like a dirty little secret that they just wanted to just do away with, and the psychologists at walter reed, bethesda, you know, didn't -- they wanted to either put you in groups that were either combat related, or other mental illnesses, and then, you know, when you're in these groups and you're talking about this, you just don't feel comfortable talking about it.
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so then they move you to an outpatient care, which, you know, is the same thing, they throw drugs at you. and it could be, you know, four or five different prescription drugs, and the thing is, is they don't want you to commit suicide, but what's the side effects of these medications? a lot of these medications, is suicide. so, you know, as for the dod, they did absolutely nothing for me but just pretty much, you know, gave me a 30% discharge of the dod for ptsd, and sent me on my way. as for the v.a., i only seen a counselor, one counselor through my whole therapy, who was not trained in military sexual trauma. he mostly trained at vietnam vets, you know, i looked for different treatment facilities, and different programs at my v.a. they were you know, women
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oriented. which was fine, but then when, you know, i asked about, you know, what can they do for men, and she says, you know, well we don't have a men's group yet. we're still in the process of putting that together. and this is just last year. and so, you know, her recommendation was to go through cognitive therapy. you know. and that's traveling down, you know, every day for six weeks. and that's 90 miles from my home, you know. >> after you attempted suicide, what did -- what type of treatment did you receive then? was it a different kind of treatment, or did you receive better care through the v.a.? >> i received -- as my spinal cord injury and my paralysis i received excellent care regarding that. and i go to richmond at hunter homes mcguire v.a. medical center down there for their spinal cord clinic, because it's top notch.
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their psychologists there are very well listeners, but, again, they're not trained about, you know, military sexual trauma. you bring it up and they're like, oh. that's kind of like their first thing and then you know, their first expression, and at that point you kind of feel like oh, you know, i'm just this, you know, this dirty thing that they just happened to stumble in. not that i'm downing any of them. it's just the fact that that's the stigma that i feel personally when you get a reply of, oh. you know, when you say that you're sexually assaulted. >> thank you. miss kenyon can you share with us your experience in terms of what type of mental health treatment you received, and whether it was better in the v.a., or whether it was better in active duty under the dod and whether your records were transferred well, and what
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impact that treatment had on you. >> yes. thank you. during my active duty service, the recommendation was to go to mental health. and whenever i did, i would get a counseling statement for not doing my job. so, after one or two, i believe, i stopped going, because of the repercussions in my command. >> did your case go to trial, miss kenyon? >> it did not. it went to basically the cid investigated, and he denied everything, and then he was caught lying on his sworn statement later, and they gave him a charge of lying on a sworn statement, and indecent assault, and basically he was given an article 15, and extra duty. so he had no jail time. he lost rank and that was it. but my repercussions in the fact
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that i could not go to treatment, i was punished for going to treatment, so i did not pursue it while i was in the military. however when i went out, i did -- when i was discharged, i did try to go to the v.a. multiple times and was redirected to other locations, other services, and eventually gave up, and i restarted recently trying to get more help and get support and basically what i have found in helping myself and other veterans, it's good counselors are the stuff of legends. you know, they're always 50 miles away. they're always -- they're, you know, i heard of this magical counselor, somewhere out of reach. you know. and those types of things happen and are told to other veterans, and they do try and pursue them. but if they are any good, they
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have a very long list. >> during your trial, did -- were mental health records used in your trial? your mental health records? >> not to my knowledge. and it was just my commander took it, and he didn't -- there was no formal trial. >> do you know, mr. arbogast, if your mental health records were used in your article 32 hearing or during your trial? >> i'm not quite sure. but they did use mental unstability, you know, the defense tried that approach when they did, when they drilled me on the stand. >> but your trial was unique. you had taped evidence of a -- of your perpetrator admitting the crime of drugging you and raping you. so you had more of an air tight case. but again for those who joined our hearing later your assailant received no jail time. >> no, due to his 23 years of service, they thought that was, you know, more or less, like i said, you know, kudos for him. and, you know, to me, it was
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disgusting because, you know -- >> which is one of the reasons why members of this committee are working so hard to remove the good soldier defense. >> right. and i think that's very important. because of the simple fact of, you know, when i'm brought in, and i'm told that, you know, oh, well he's just a lance corporal, i'm a staff sergeant, this is how many years i've served and then you use that good soldier defense, you know, then that weighs upon the jury, or the judge, whoever has the case, and then they're like oh, well he's had this one case, but that doesn't mean that he hasn't had cases in the past. >> thank you. senator graham? >> thank you very much. do both of you agree if you had access to civilian counseling services that would be beneficial? if the v.a. would pay for it? >> if i had a little more choice outside of where i did not feel i had to go to the v.a., and possibly endure other male
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soldiers who are always threatening to me regardless, it's just a trigger, i do believe that i could see the benefit in not only other outside counselors, but other alternative health care as prescriptions are not -- >> do you know of anything in your local community that you think would be beneficial to you? >> i have -- i have heard and seen a lot of benefits to things like meditation to yoga to -- in correlation with a counselor, you know, to push through balance and well-being, and taking those triggers and those moments of panic and being able to maintain them much better. >> i don't want to butcher your last name, lance corporal -- >> arbogast, senator. >> arbogast. do you think that would be helpful to you to have access to
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civilian counseling where the v.a. is inadequate? >> i actually do that. i actually use my track care and medicare to do that because of the v.a. counselors not having that expertise. >> so tricare does provide that access to you? >> correct. >> in your case, miss kenyon, that's not the case? >> i currently do not receive anything like that. and i pay out of pocket for any counseling. >> did you get a disability -- >> i have not received a rating. >> is that still ongoing? >> it's still ongoing, senator. >> what was the date of your assault, do you recall what time period? >> i hate to say this, but which one? >> well, i mean the one that is the subject of article 15. >> the one that received the most justice, i suppose, would be july 2006. >> 2006. now you said you received letters of counseling, going for treatment, is that correct? >> yes, senator.
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>> would you be willing to make those letters available to the committee? >> absolutely. if i have received a copy of them, i will -- >> thank you. i would like to see the letter of counseling, who wrote it, and what they said. thank you both. i hope that we can find a way to broaden the treatment options available. for those who find themselves in your circumstance. and i think there are a lot of things outside the v.a., outside dod that may be beneficial. not just in this situation, but in other situations. but particularly this situation. thank you for sharing your testimony with the committee. >> senator hirono? >> thank you, madam chair. and thank you both for testifying this morning. one of the concerns that this committee, and the larger committee, the main committee, has is the fact that thousands and thousands of these sexual assaults occur, and they are never reported.
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would you share with us from, particularly from your own experience, why this is so, and what we can do to enable more of the survivors to report these crimes. start with you mr. arbogast. >> senator, could you elaborate your question again? >> well, thousands of the -- the figures are some 22,000-plus sexual assaults occur in the military in a given year and only a very insignificant number of these crimes are ever reported to the chain of command. and i wanted to ask for your thoughts on why this is so, and what we can do to enable more people to report these crimes. enable more service members? >> and the dod, reporting to the chain of command, it's horrific. you know, it could be a
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perpetrator in your chain of command. it could be your direct supervisor. in my case it was my previous supervisor. he used his influences to try to get to me, torment me, over the time that i was, you know, raped, and to the time that the investigation was going on. then i endure, you know, going to his home, wearing a body wire, and then i have to endure the article 32, and i have to endure the court-martial. so you can see the patterns of different traumas that i was subjected to. so, anybody that would see something like that, any service member would be like, you know, i'm not going to report this. and you know, and thousands of veterans, the v.a. finds thousands of veterans a year that finally report military sexual trauma. and i don't have the exact numbers, but i know it's
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alarming. so it's, you know, you know, taking it out of the chain of command, you know, i've talked to some active duty commanders, and they have specifically said, if i don't have to deal with a sexual assault and i can continue with going on with what my mission is to, you know, make the unit ready, and deal with these everyday problems of what needs done and whatever their command is, whether it be engineering, mode of transport, they would like to do that, concentrate on that. because a sexual assault is more or less a burden on the command. and then it creates a morale problem. and a cohesion problem. so, you know, it's -- it's just, you know, that's the only thing i can -- i can think of that would, you know, get that -- you know, you know, going back to my testimony where it says, you know, that sapro official made the comment that, you know, let's tell them, let's just tell
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perpetrators, don't rape. okay so you get all the perpetrators in a room and tell them don't rape. but you're still going to allow them to serve? >> i note in your testimony that one of the observations you made is that there should be some very specific specialized training in working with survivors of military sexual trauma. i do agree with you, because on the civilian side, there are many states that require prosecutors, for example, to get very specialized treatment -- training when they deal with rape victims, for example. and apparently that's something that you would suggest for the military. miss kenyon would you like to give us your thoughts on my question? >> yes, thank you, senator. i would add, generally, the attitude, sexual assault is underreported in the civilian world, as well, and is not to disregard the military environment in which makes it
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even more hostile. i would also point out that i can only correlate it with -- to make and understand who would a cop report a rape to within their own -- you know, that wouldn't cause other police officers to possibly spread a rumor. that's the only civilian thing i could possibly think that would correlate with a perversion of justice this way. so i would also stop publicly putting posters up with rape myths, like wait until she's sober. these types of things like that, where it's a different type of candy-coated victim blaming. there's a lot of studies in regards to the perpetrators are repeat offenders. they prey on this. it is not a sexual act. it is a power act. it is not about the sex. it is about usually taking them
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down a notch. >> and would you agree it should also be treated as a crime? >> oh, absolutely. >> that's what it is. you work with -- with survivors of military sexual trauma, so during the period when you had to undergo repeated traumas, have there been some positive changes to how the military helps survivors of military sexual trauma? >> well, i do believe the 2004 implementation of the sapro office, despite it not having power, the option to report unrestricted and restricted did open a few doors. however, the loopholes are so great that the command can still exploit them regardless, because, for example, if you were a survivor of the sexual assault, and you wanted to go to a counselor but you reported restricted, which is all within your rights, what would you tell
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your commander? you know, giving that information to a commander allows them to investigate it, and go further with an unrestricted report, whether they cooperate or not. this was threatened to me. and already being ostracized based on a previous investigation, i could not allow the commander who threatened to question everybody in my hangar, that's 260 people, and create that kind of environment which everybody knew what was going on. not just most of them. >> so while there have been some improvements then given theer is earty of the problem, more can be done? >> we have a very long road ahead, and you know, it is an amount of baby steps. and i do hope that we can take it step by step, and -- and public prosecutions will go a long way to showing both victims and survivors, or perpetrators,
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as justice can and will be done. >> and you, too, support removing the chain of command from the decision to prosecute these crimes? >> absolutely. i believe that there's enough on the commander's plate, and the fact that there's just entirely too many conflicts of interest, as well as just, even if they do want to do the right thing, there's pressures from every direction that creates an almost impossible environment in which justice could be served. even, and i hate to say this, but even to the perpetrators. >> thank you. thank you madam chair. >> thank you, madam chair. questions in sort of two areas that have been raised by just listening to your testimony and answers to questions. and first i'll just thank you for being here today. this is hard to do. and i appreciate your courage in coming, and letting us ask questions so that we can understand the situation, and better decide how to improve it. ms. kenyon you raised a point in your testimony, i want to make
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sure i understood what you meant. you said you think to some degree sexual assault in serkszual assault in the military gets treated like any other sexual assault, citizen sexual assault and you said you thought the better analogy was an incest analogy. i want to make sure i understand what you meant when you said that. >> absolutely. thank you. i do -- i love talking about this. the betrayal aspect is completely uncommon in the civilian sexual assault. one of the feelings that i left the military feeling almost crushingly, the betrayal of my command. we're talking at this point, an all-volunteer military. so they go in and there's an inherent trust. there's a trust in the system. you know, you're fighting next to your brothers, your sisters. these guys are in charge of your
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well-being, your food, your exercise everything. everything in the same respect as an adult would with a child. boot camp is there to break you down to build uh-uh -- you back up as an airman or whatever. if you were assaulted by your brother, psychologically quite similar. you go to your father, your commander and say he didn't want to report it. how would you deal with that? so it's quite psychologically similar. as well as the fact that it is very easy for victims -- and this happens in the civilian world, but it's very easy for victims to start blaming themselves because they don't know the perpetrator. so i teach them about the perpetrator so that they can put the blame where it belongs and process that correctly.
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both of those go a long way. >> it's not only a crime of violence but a betrayal of a relationship. in the civilian context, whether it's incest or sexual assault by someone you know, which a huge percentage of sexual assaults in the civilian context are by -- the survivors know the perpetrator that. helps me understand what you meant. you touched upon the topic that i wanted each of you to address a little bit. in the treatment phase, concerns that you both have about
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overmedication. and i just was curious, is that a concern that you have about the way ptsd is treated from sexual assault or a more general concern you're sharing with us about the way the dod or the va approaches mental health issues? this is part of a much larger discussion, obviously, as we tackle mental health issues. are we too heavy into take this prescription or two or three mor more. >> thank you, senator. that context not only goes with combat related ptsd to military sexual trauma that they're overly medicated and you've got severe side effects to all these medications. so you're pretty much, like i
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said, when you go to these appointments -- and this is a flaw also. when you go to get these medications, you've got six-month gaps before you see a psychologist or psychiatrist. so, you know, there's too many long gaps there. and then when you go there, you know, you spend five minutes in their office. if you live far away, you travel 90 miles, spend five minutes in an office, we're going to throw this drug at you or that drug at you. as i said before, these side effects are just astronomical of what they can cause. >> thank you, senator. this definitely -- i can speak personally in the ptsd realm. however, in the survivors i have dealt with, it does bleed over into other -- you know, when it comes to like tbi, any sort of
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personality disorders, any diagnosed depression. even if you say, i hurt my foot. they will throw a pill at you. at least one. what happens is it usually starts with one or two. oh, let's try this out and in like -- i pointed out, very long spans in getting back in to take yourself off of some of these drugs is extremely dangerous. and to mix and match is also even worse. and then you come up with new symptoms saying, well, i dealt with this, but now i feel like i'm under water all the time. they'll throw another pill at you, instead of fixing the one that they previously gave you. >> we're seeing, you know -- obviously, i know you follow this, too. a huge epidemic of things like heroin addiction these days. in the broader society that often begins with prescription drug addiction and then prescription drugs are more expensive than heroin now. and so this prescription drug
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thing is a significant issue. if i hear you correctly, as you describe it, you worry a little bit that this overmedication is driven by we don't have enough counselor counselors to meet with you so if it's going to be six months before we have an appointment, we have to do something. here, try this. it's kind of a stop gap. probably isn't the best diagnosis. probably isn't the best strategy, but we've got to do something because there's not enough counselors to deal with your mental health needs. there's an issue of the number of counselors, the kind of training they get and you're worried the medications are just being kind of -- here is something to get you by for a while. >> yeah. a band-aid basically. and even then it's a band-aid that could kill you. >> yeah. >> some of them, the medications snowball and i don't -- i personally have looked this up. i can't find accurate like correlations with civilian versus military treatment in medications and how they're doled out. i think that would be important
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to study as well as just the -- the survivors that have contacted me, out the of curiosity, the ones who have volunteered their list of medications and my husband being a neuro scientist, i hand them over and he says how are they still alive? it's amazing to read just the side effects and some of these things. >> well, my time is up. this raises an interesting area that we probably should explore. if we were able to determine, for example, that folks in the military who were seeking treatment for mental health issues, ptsd or other, were dramatically more medicated than those who were seeking mental health services in the civilian world. that would really strike a big alarm. that would suggest to us that maybe something is not being done right. and the way you made that testimony, you pointed at a potential problem that we ought to explore further. thank you for your testimony
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toda today. >> first and most importantly, i always stand in awe of those of you who have been victimized by this horrific crime and step out of the shadows and not only try to see justice but then go on and try to do even more. and i think while there are some policy differences in the united states senate, i think we all are such fans of your courage and your tenacity. so i want to thank you very much for that. you know, as somebody who spent years as a sex crimes prosecutor and walked into the courtroom, hand in hand, with hundreds of victims, i am painfully aware of the shortcomings of victims services for this crime, no matter where it occurs.
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and one of the things i wanted to visit briefly with both of you about is first i want to thank the military, because i think it is the research and the recognition of ptsd that has allowed the civilian criminal justice system to begin to get their arms around the fact, i think most of the victim is i worked with in the late 70s, '80s and '90s were suffering from ptsd. and those that were victims of domestic violence were suffering from ptsd. and our ability to treat this and prevent suicide as a result of this absolutely insidious illness should be at the top of all of our lists. so i think at least now we are beginning to recognize the problem. we got a ways to go, obviously, with having the services tailored to the type of stress and trauma that has brought about this illness. and i think that's what we're all focused on trying to do now.
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if either one of you, at the moment you reported, whether to a social worker, at a hospital or whether it was restricted or unrestricted, if at that moment you had gotten your own lawyer whose only job was to look out for you, do you think it could have made a difference in terms of how you were treated as you navigated this difficult process and the services that you might have been provided? >> thank you, senator. i do believe a lawyer would be helpful, especially one that is impartial and not in my command or anywhere related. i also have been personally working on a type of miranda rights where you can go to anybody as a survivor of sexual assault and they have to tell
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you what your rights are before you move forward. that way, you know -- i mean, you didn't accidentally go to your commander and then -- now you can't report restricted. that was something that happened to me and my commander then later made promises that made me confident in the fact that he would lie to me. that being said, between the the lawyer as well as like the -- just being very upfront, commander, priests, clergy, lawyers, anybody involved in that system should be upfront with what a survivor is allowed to do at that point before he or she can make a decision on that, in that regard. >> senator, i really don't know. i was young at the time.
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i can't say because everything was kind of fast paced. i went from falling apart to where do i go to a social worker and everything trickling down from there. was i told anything about, hey, these are your rights and you can have your own attorney. i think that would have help ed being advocated by somebody who was not biased within the chain of command. the simple fact that you don't know if this person may be advocating for you or your so-called lawyer. i don't know if you're referring to a civilian lawyer or military lawyer. but you don't know if that's a golfing buddy or somewhere down the line that they know each other. and they go back and tell your personal information and then, you know, where i've had this
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happen is people found out about my situation from being talked about. and it's like how did they find out? >> right. i know when i was prosecuted sometimes there were victims that declined to go forward, even after we had gone through a lot of the process and i felt very strongly that the case could be successfully prosecuted and the victim, for a lot of reasons, including mental health issues, ptsd issues said, no, i'm done. at that moment in time, the lack of trust that victim may have had in me -- i was part of a system. you know, i was associated with the police. and, you know, i was -- if they had had their own independent lawyer that would have been giving them advice just for them -- a little bit like we do for court-appointed advocates for children in the juvenile system in the civilian cases where there is a lawyer, an advocate for the child that is not associated with any of the other parties in the conflict, i'm hoping that what we've done,
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which is remarkable, that we are going to require this for all victims, is going to set a standard -- first of all, this has never been done anywhere in the world has this occurred. i'm really hopeful that it will, once again, show the way of the civilian system that we've got to find the resources to get victims -- and in the civilian system the victims have no guarantee of any mental health services. none. zip. nada. there's nothing there. a lot of them don't have insurance. so you have to kind of coddle together. i want to say finally we are determined to get rid of the good soldier defense. i am confident that is going to happen. if not in the next month, then certainly i have not encountered opposition to this idea. and finally we're going to work on this overmedication thing when i went to walter reed after the big scandal there and went from room to room in the fisher house and other places over
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there. every single room, the dresser was all alcohol bottles and pill bottles. and i didn't see one sign for group therapy for addiction treatment. and i began then realizing we had a huge overmedication problem when it comes to mental health in the military. >> if i could ask about your question about the attorney, from reporting to article 32, i had nobody, nobody at all. the thing is that when it came to court-martial time, i was drilled. being revictimized so many times and nobody had the prosecutor. they could only do so much.
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saying, listen, did you ask for this? you wanted this. and the judge not to intervene, it was disgusting. >> believe me, i have been in a courtroom as a prosecutor when a judge did intervene, when there were appropriate questions and the judge just completely did not make the right ruling. and, you know, i think judges are better today than they were 20 years ago. we are working now to make sure that the victims today and going forward have that independent lawyer that can be there for them and advise them. and i'm very excited about that reform. we all worked very hard on it together. i'm really proud of it. i don't think that how big it is has actually been comprehended by most people because we've been focused on a policy difference rather than the monumental historic changes that we just got signed into law.
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>> may i say as well that person not be subject to rank? i've had captains and lieutenants and they were unable to confront my commander because they outranked or even the sapro office, who had no rank and were civilian coward under anyone with any bars on them. so, to have that independence somehow. >> we've got to make sure that happens. you're absolutely right. thank you both very much. >> thank you, senator. that is something many of us will look into for the next ndaa, because i've heard of
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cases where special victims counsels have advised not to seek mental health because of the concern it would be used in article 32 against them or at least advised you need to be aware that it could be used against you. i've heard of cases where the question of whether one would report or not was debated because of fear of how they would be treated. so i think we have to really look into empowerment of that specific person to see if they can't be bullied, they can't be retaliated against themselves. so i think that's something senator mccaskill and other senators will work on for the nerks round. i think it's really important. senator happ? >> thank you, madame chair, for holding this hearing. i want to thank both of you for being here and for your courage coming here before us. i'm so sorry for everything you have been through. but to come here before us, it's really important. because this issue, obviously,
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is one we want to work together to stop the occurrence of military sexual assaults in the the military but also to make sure that victims get the full support that they need. i think this issue is of special victims counsel that senator mccaskill and i and senator gillebrand and others. making retaliation a crime under the ucmj and i think as we go forward. this is something we look at to make sure that it is clear that any kind of action against a victim's counsel that is helping sexual assault victims should be actionable. that's an important thing so that everyone understands that retaliation against a victim is a crime with ucmj but also
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retaliation of someone acting on his or her behalf should be as well. i think that's something we can make sure as we look at this going forward. senator mccaskill and others have thought it's a good idea eliminating the good soldier defense. i am hoping we do that this year, special victims' counsel but this good soldier defense has no place in determining, you know, the outcome of these cases in the sense that your conduct should determine the outcome. and if you've committed a crime and have committed these horrible acts, then just because you were a good soldier doesn't mean you shouldn't be held accountable and fully accountable and have the the appropriate sentence to go with the crime that you committed. and i think that in the civilian system we've eliminated a lot of these things. and those reforms now, i'm
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hoping, will have some agreement on that. there is a lot of agreement to get that past this year as well. finally, i want to understand as you talk about the overmedication sbiissue and the transitions you've made outside the military, how do we improve that transition process? what can dod and the va do to improve that transition process from your perspective, and to make sure that you have the support system in place, if you choose to leave the military and have been a victim of sexual assault? last week i was up in new hampshire, visiting one of our veterans centers and one of their charges is to treat victims of sexual assault. and i think it's, obviously, how do we make sure that that care is there. i wanted to get your thoughts on
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what can we do better on even the transition from dod, those who are leaving, out to the va and obviously i heard what you said about the overmedication issue. within the va system so that we're working -- even though the veterans committee will work on that, we can work on that thon committ. i wanted to get your thoughts on how we could do a better job. >> thank you, senator. i've worked closely and do adaptive sport with his the wounded warrior resident from the marine corps. they have district injured support coordinators. the marine corps has made a huge step when it comes to that, because not only do they follow from the time they're in the wounded warrior there to the civil i civilian world check in on the
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veterans. it's crucial and it's an awesome concept when it comes to that. so that way this is going on, that officer or enlisted, whatever it may be, can contact their resources and make things move along and the marine corps has done tremendously when it comes to taking care of their wounded. >> maybe that's a model we can look at to make sure that's across services? >> i believe so. it's been pretty effective. >> i would say the ability for the va to talk to the dood, that is something that is very broken right now. the records and database in which they both work do not communicate at all. and that will go a long way to
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just -- as simple as a records transfer that. will help as well as affording opportunities outside the va and ptsd sufferers in getting themselves to a well-being and to navigate that complex system. here are my recommendations, and i don't think they'll work for everybody however catering, having enough support even if it's a single counselor for one individual help with paperwork to see that he or she receives the proper medications, that they c-- not sit on hold for da. >> for days, really?
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>> for hours and hours. most of the time you give up and try again tomorrow. >> wow. >> so that does happen quite a bit. i would like to make a comment on the retaliation. >> whatever you would like to -- >> you said you want to make retaliation a crime. and currently in regulations, it is. however, it is usually the command who does it. and as it currently stands, it's the command who would prosecute themselves. so that's a clear conflict of interest. how would you pursue that? how are you proposing that -- say i was retaliated against. who do i go to? who would handle that case as well as who would be in charge of making that charge and deciding what was really retaliation and what might have just been a bad night out or any other number of things that the command could downplay it as.
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>> i think that we have further, with what we passed in the legislation, further emphasized that retaliation in particular for these types of crimes is a clear crime under the ucmj to further give teeth to that crime under the ucmj and, you know, one of the proposals that is on the table allows a really -- going beyond the chain of command, up the chain, beyond if there is a conflict at the level of the chain of command. i think that's one way to deal with it, where you're taking it up beyond that person and really upping the issue within so that there's a huge emphasis on it. but, obviously, one of the things we want to get at with everything that we're doing is that we continue to have oversight over this. i mean, i think what you're hearing from everyone here is that whatever we pass -- we've passed some incredibly important
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reforms in the defense authorization and we may pass further reforms that we're going to continue not to just have this be the year where we're emphasizing it, but where we have regular oversight over this. i think that's an important aspect, too, so that we can further pass whatever needs to be done and also hold people publicly accountable, particularly for those who are leaders to understand that this is part of their responsibility to have a zero tolerance policy and support victims and that if a leader in our military is found to be retaliate iing agai someone who is a victor helping a victim, they're going to have a lot of problems and we will hold them publicly accountable here, too. i want you both to know this isn't you come here once and we're just going to have this year of issues because i think all of us arounder around this table are committed to a continuing oversight function.
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next year and each month. in the past we've had this issue where we're all focusing on it and it goes away, but we're all dealing with the problem still. we are committed to remaining continuously engaged on this issue on a bipartisan basis. thank you for raising the issue on retaliation. >> thank you. senator kaine? >> i would like to say thank you, like my colleagues have. i wouldn't want to appear before a congress youngal hearing. i want to focus on the issue of command and chain of command. that term has been used repeatedly. you said something about it's
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the command who retaliates. how can they prosecute themselves? my commander lied to me. i don't need a name, but what rank person are you referring to when you say that? >> i actually had multiple ranks retaliate as well as lie to me and make false promises and things of that nature. everyone from my squad leader up to my command sergeant major and my lieutenant colonel. everyone in that rank who i came in contact with, regarding my sexual assault somehow, some more severe than others let me down or made false promises or made it -- or outright made my life a living hell zblie understand that. but i think one of the ways that this discussion that we've been having has been is we're using
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chain of command -- under department of defense policy nobody below '06 makes the decision whether or not to go forward with a prosecution sbchlt those people you just mentioned all are below the 06 level. in other words, when you say your commander, you're not talking about a navy captain or a colonel or above. is that correct? >> yes, senator, that's correct. excuse me. at that time that i served, it was the commander's ability to lessen the charge. so an 06 never -- it never came across their desk. >> okay. now that's an issue we have to be sure that the facts get to the 06 level because they're the people making the decision. but i think it's important to inform our discussion that when people talk about taking the decision out of the chain of command, you're not taking it away from sergeants and majors. you're taking it


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